Erinn Batykefer, MLIS

An online professional portfolio

Common Sense Media: An online media ratings tool

Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization that publishes reviews and ratings for movies, video games, TV shows, books, music, and other media.

From the website:

Mission: Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology.

How we rate and review: Common Sense Media rates media based on age appropriateness and learning potential. We rely on developmental criteria from some of the nation’s leading authorities to determine what content is appropriate for which ages. Research on how kids learn from media and technology informs our learning ratings. Our goal is to give you trustworthy information so that you can decide what works for your family. We know every family and every kid is different — but all families need information to make great media choices.

The site’s information is fair and unbiased in my opinion– the goal is simply to outline the content of a particular work so that families can make good decisions about what’s appropriate for them and their kids.  The mission of the organization and the 10 beliefs they list online also align well with the goals of librarianship, especially when it comes to providing materials for kids and teens:  access to information, and an acknowledgement of the importance and influence of media.

Public librarians collect materials for everyone in a community, and must rely on parents to determine appropriate content for their individual families.  I see Common Sense Media as a particularly good tool for librarians to check up on the content of books and other materials in the collection that may be challenged, or to answer questions from concerned patrons about content that you may not be familiar with first-hand.

Common Sense Media is also a good resource to point parents to if they want to assess materials for their family.  The nice thing is that there isn’t any judgment on the site; it’s just an application for research into children’s learning and development, and a practical way to make that information easy and accessible.

Each review includes:

  • An easy-to-understand color-coded age scale that indicates the appropriate age range for that media.
  • A short plot synopsis
  • A blurb on what parents might want to know about the content
  • A short write-up on the item’s quality based on the genre (literary, cinema, video game, etc)
  • A scale rating that quantifies sex, violence, drug use, language, consumerism, educational value, good role models, and positive messages that are included in the content
  • Suggestions for family talking points
  • Areas for both kids and parents to review and rate each item

What do you think?

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2012 by in Tech & Tools and tagged , , , , , .
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